Contractors in the COVID-19 era may be tempted to think that the Government will compensate them for increased costs caused by virus-induced shutdowns, quarantines, and the like. And this line of thought has some inherent appeal.
After all, the virus was entirely unforeseen by both parties when the contract was inked. So shouldn’t the customer–the party wanting the good or service–bear the risk of these extraordinary events?
The government’s use of specifications within a contract carries an implied warranty that the specifications are free from errors. When a contractor is misled by the erroneous specifications, the contractor may seek recovery through an equitable adjustment to the contract. But what happens when the government seeks services through a requirements contract and is simply negligent in estimating its needs?
A recent Federal Circuit decision, Agility Defense & Government Services, Inc., v. United States, No. 16-1068 (Fed. Cir. 2017) finds that a contractor may be able to recover damages in such instances under a negligent estimate theory.